Almost every organization outsources part(s) of their human resources.  Most businesses use third parties to perform payroll, job recruiting (through job boards like Monster) or social media sites (such as LinkedIn), background checking, assessments, and benefits administration. An outsourced provider uses a combination of technology, certified personnel, and streamlined processes to more effectively perform a transaction for the buying organization than can be efficiently done in-house.

Related workforce management solutions


For human resources, HCS (Human Capital Services) and related workforce management solutions (WFM), technology has outpaced user adoption. Today, the demand from consumers to have the same technology experiences at work as they do at home, along with the changing workforce dynamics, is driving the future of HR software and human capital services (HCS).

HR Automation

Technology has the capability to automate basic transactions and functions, and to support employees so that they can self-manage much of HR that was previously done by administrators and HR staff.  The result is that enabled organizations can focus on their core. And for employers, today’s solutions can deliver reduced cost structures such as:

  • Self-Service: the deployment of self-service gives employees and managers direct access to a wealth of information and tools.  Through employee self-service systems via intranets, employees can access the information and support to manage their own health benefits, 401(k) programs and day-to-day HR transactions.
  • Providers who handle processes that are not core to operations such as: benefits administration, payroll, assessments, workforce analytics, and recruitment-process outsourcing.
  • Shared-services model for back-office functions: Every non-strategic HR function — administrative support, research, document centers, benefits, billing and payroll, among others — is taken out of the hands of internal employees and managers.  This centralization reduces costs and allows front-line people to focus on higher-impact work.

Essentially, anything that is a transaction can be automated, standardized, and streamlined. With all of the electronic, self-service, outsourced and integrated HR, one might think that the human resources department is being marginalized, but actually, HR is becoming more critical, and more strategic as its professionals are freed to focus time and resources on critical business outcomes:

  1. Workforce management
  2. Talent supply chain management
  3. Workforce analytics specific to the business, such as labor matching (job costing meets real-time scheduling and workforce planning)

HR Software Technology, HCS, & HRO History

The market for workforce technology and HRO solution providers (otherwise referred to as HR technology, HRIS, HRMS, HCM, talent management and a host of other clever names and acronyms) has come a long way over the years with the constant being evolution.  Another constant has been that the technology capabilities have outpaced the adoption and use.

The utilization failure is in part due to overhyped promises on the part of providers and poor business processes by the buyers.  In fact, the majority of implementations deployed have failed to fully utilize the entire suite of possibilities for HR technology.

The history of HR technology has evolved as the focus of the human resource function has changed.  And the scope and strategy and technology will continue to change over time as it always does: from human resources being called “Personnel” before the 1980’s to “HR” in the 1980’s and 1990s to “HCM” in the 2000’s to something else before we get to 2015… in the opinion of most experts believe.